Getting into the beta of Battlefleet Gothic: Armada had me rather excited. Ever since I saw the initial gameplay trailer I was on the edge of my seat. The prospect of micro-managing a high-tension fleet battle with more realistic maneuvering seemed like such a great idea to me. I got ridiculously hype at just the simple idea of using the asteroids and debris in a level as cover from incoming fire, for example.
The insanely complex combat lived up at least somewhat to the hype. The complexity of the experience lies in the micro-heavy approach to commanding your fleets. Individual ships need a fair bit of direction in battle to operate at their most efficient. Planning your moves using the limited time pausing feature makes tactical reactions vital, equally important is working changing battlefield conditions into an overall strategy. Careful positioning and usage of attack focus abilities can make or break your victory. And I’ll admit that it took a fair bit of play to get used to the amount of pressure I was under as a fleet commander.
The biggest flaws are pretty predictable for a game in a beta state. A lack of balance in some ship costs and ability effects is to be expected. The lack of visual variety in the battlefield decoration can make the fights feel a bit lifeless. The nebulae and other debris add little to the visual appeal of the maps. The 2D plane on the battlefield just feels a bit empty to me.
The game makes up for the lack of environmental detail by stuffing in the source material at any opportunity. The ships contain a variety of lore appropriate abilities that assist the player in combat, many of which are centered on movement bonuses meant to beat a hasty retreat from unbeatable odds.
As for the actual gameplay, the singleplayer and multiplayer offerings make for an already entertaining few hours. The player takes control of the Imperium of Man forces in a desperate struggle for control of the galaxy against the likes of Orks and Chaos. Each opposing faction has it’s own unique ship sets and abilities, some of which could use some balance tweaks, but overall the idea appears solid. Upon the final victory or loss in a match, the player is awarded Renown based on how they performed. The player can then use these to upgrade their ships and abilities in-between fights.
One glaring issue with the focus of the game is the tendency to be overly punishing for losing ships entirely. Metagaming is a bit shallow as a result as the seemingly intended result of a loss is to live to fight another day, rather than attempting to turn a loss into a stalemate by taking out as many enemy ships as possible.
The multiplayer is solid, no major issues with matchmaking were seen on my end, though there are some reports of crashes and other bugs. The game balance isn’t quite there yet, so some players may want to wait for a short time if they want a perfected multiplayer experience.
It’s clear from my experience so far that despite the current issues, there is a definite attempt to make an amazing game here, and I cannot wait to see the final product.
“We’ve put a great deal of attention during the development of Battlefleet Gothic: Armada. We have conducted several alphas, invited players to play tests, run as many stress tests as possible and even invited influencers from the community to give us their educated opinion. In a word, we put the game stability as a top priority on Battlefleet Gothic: Armada and a lot of effort in having a clean and polished game.”
“The MP Beta accessible for all the players who pre-ordered the game will give us a very last opportunity to bring a top-note of balancing and optimization. A dedicated team of people will also make sure the release of the game is as smooth as possible and that players can fully enjoy the game.”